Given the near-perfect weather year-round in Southern California, golf is incredibly popular in Los Angeles. Beautiful public courses can be found in just about every area of the city.
For those who love to watch the pros in action, the hot golf ticket in town each February is the PGA Northern Trust Open. The $6.4 million purse attracts the best golfers in the world to its week of competition at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades.
The City Parks and Recreation Department lists seven public 18-hole courses in Los Angeles, and L.A. County runs some good ones, too. Rancho Park Golf Course is one of the most heavily played links in the country. It's a beautifully designed course, but the towering pines present an obstacle for those who slice or hook. There's a two-level driving range, a 9-hole pitch 'n' putt, a snack bar, and a pro shop where you can rent clubs.
Griffith Park has two splendid 18-hole courses along with a challenging 9-hole course. Harding Municipal Golf Course and Wilson Municipal Golf Course (4730 Crystal Springs Dr., Los Angeles 323/663–2555) are about 1½ mi inside the park entrance, at Riverside Drive and Los Feliz Boulevard. Bridle paths surround the outer fairways, and the San Gabriel Mountains make a scenic background.
The Holmby Park Pitch 'n' Putt is truly cozy: the longest hole is 68 yards.
You may recall the 9-hole pitch 'n' putt Los Feliz Municipal Golf Course from the movie Swingers.
The 9-hole Roosevelt Municipal Golf Course can be reached through the park's Vermont Avenue entrance.
Several good public courses are in the San Fernando Valley. The Sepulveda Golf Complex has the Balboa course (par 70) and the longer Encino course (par 72), plus a driving range.
Five lakes and occasional wildlife spottings make the Woodley Lakes Golf Course fairly scenic. It's flat and thus somewhat forgiving, but the back 9 is more challenging, with only one par 4 under 400 yards.
Pasadena and Environs
If you want a scenic course, the county-run, par-71 Los Verdes Golf Course has fierce scenery. You get a cliff-top view of the ocean—time it right and you can watch the sun set behind Catalina Island.
Sitting on landfill, the Scholl Canyon Golf Club may only be a par 60, but it's fun and challenging, attractive for its top condition as well as its ups and downs and elevated views.